Danny's Football Bluff

August 14, 2013

Season 2013/14 Preview!

Hi folks, welcome to my blog. It’s about football and it’s aimed at people who don’t care that much about football but want to stay informed. The good folk at The Project have published my season preview, but in case you missed it, here it is below:

Enjoy!

On Sunday the English Premier League and many other European Football Leagues kick off for the year, and the A-League season is just under six weeks away. So you know what that means – that guy in your workplace who is OBSESSED with the round ball game is going to start boring you to death with opinions and facts about it all.

I know that guy, because I am that guy. I am, however, much more self-aware than most of the other ‘that guys’ and I know most of Australia does not share my passion, so I am using my powers for good. I know you don’t mind soccer, {see I even call it soccer, I am aware that other codes use the name football, so to avoid confusion, I call it soccer, already I’m less of a dick} and with the World Cup in less than a year you probably want to bone up on your knowledge a bit, but who has the time? I do!

So this is my guide to surviving a conversation with that soccer nut and knowing more than your friends in preparation for the World Cup. These easy opinions and fun facts on the upcoming football season will you have sounding like a true fan, but with minimal effort.

The English Premier League.

What big things happened in the off season?
1. Manchester United have their first new manager in 27 years! They replaced the angry Scotsman Sir Alex Ferguson with a slightly more googly eyed angry Scotsman, David Moyes.

2. Jose Mourinho returned to manage Chelsea. Mourinho is football world’s Bond Villain. He’s maniacal, egotistical, not afraid to ruin matches with dull defensive tactics, but at the same time so ridiculously charming. I would have loved to have seen him at Man United, in the same way I would love to see a real bull in a real china shop.

3. Arsenal promised their fans they would bring in some big name players during the off season, but haven’t. Unless you count Yaya Sanogo as a big name**.

**You don’t.

Three handy phrases
A] “With all the new managers it’ll be the closest season in years.”
B] “I can’t wait for the first Manchester derby! Or the first North London derby! They’ll be fascinating!”
C] “If Rooney moves to Chelsea, it’s game on!”

Don’t say – “I’ll be interested to see what hairstyle David Beckham plays with this year.”

My prediction – Chelsea to win the league, but only just.

The A-League

What big things happened in the off season?
1. Central Coast Mariners won the grand final, and since then have lost five members of that team. It’s well known the Mariners are in financial trouble, but that hasn’t stopped the fans flocking to see the winning trophy proudly on display at Gosford Cash Converters.

2. Harry Kewell returns to the A-League! But not for his old team Melbourne Victory, for their rivals Melbourne Heart! This has enraged the Victory support, but brought no end of joy to all the Heart fans, both of them.

3. SBS managed to claim the right to broadcast one match a round on free-to-air. This will be a ratings bonanza for the network, especially if they get all matches commentated by Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang.

Three handy phrases
A] “It’ll be great for football if the Western Sydney Wanderers can repeat their amazing season.”
B] “Adelaide’s new Spanish manager seems exciting, but can he adapt to the more physical A league?”
C] “With the salary cap in place, you never can predict A League matches let alone seasons.”

Don’t Say – “Did you know A League is about 4.8 kilometres?”

My prediction – Melbourne Victory to win the league.

The rest of Europe

1. Bayern Munich won the Champions League last year and now have signed Pip Guardiola, widely regarded as one of the best managers in the world. So they seem like an unstoppable German machine!
2. Barcelona signed the Brazilian wonderkid Neymar, widely regarded as the next Pele. Considering they still have Lionel Messi on their books, they seem like an unstoppable Spanish/Catalan machine!
3. Carlos Tevez transferred over to Juventus, widely regarded as one of the most corrupt teams on the planet. Considering a lot of these allegations have also included links to the mafia, this blogger thinks they are all wonderful gentlemen and wishes them all the best, as he fears their unstoppable Italian machine guns.

Three handy phrases:
A] “Gareth Bale could be brilliant at Real Madrid, provided they play him in the right position.”
B] “Paris Saint-Germaine are a team of champions, but nowhere near a champion team.”
C] “I hope the headlines coming out of Italy are about football for a change.”

Don’t say – “I thought European football was cancelled after Lance Armstrong was found to be a drug cheat?”

My prediction – Juventus to win the Champions League. I like my thumbs.

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April 29, 2013

29th April 2013

This is a weird time in football, especially here in Australia as all the popular leagues have been decided. Central Coast won the A-League, Manchester United won the Premier League and Celtic claimed its second straight Scottish title. So what’s happening everywhere else? Well – in Spain, Barcelona are eleven points clear of Real Madrid so that’s pretty much over; Juventus are dominating Italy; Bayern Munich have already won Germany. Where can we look for footballing interest?

Well the Champions League Final is looking to be an all German affair. In the two semi finals; Borussia Dortmund are leading 4-1 over Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich are similarly trouncing Barcelona 4-0, both with return matches still to be played. Although this seems quite dull there is hope for all of us for the following reasons –

If the return legs do not provide us with epic comebacks, then May 25th will be Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund. Then we are all given an excuse to host German themed parties! Lederhosen, schnitzels, and large steins of beer! [Very important, they dull the pain of over enthusiastic slap dances, which will happen if Bayern win]

A much more attractive solution is if Real Madrid & Barcelona stage great comeback wins, then not only do we get an ‘El Classico’ Final [That’s the nickname of a Barca v Real clash], but then things will become even more interesting due to…
Mario Balotelli! AC Milan striker, an absolute talent who also happens to be bat-shit crazy. Balotelli has publicly declared that if Real Madrid make the Champions League final that his girlfriend will publicly sleep with all of Real Madrid. Now some voyeuristic fans might like the idea of watching such an outcome, but surely the more fun end product will be Balotelli’s girlfriend – a Belgian model named Fanny Neguesha – publicly slapping her nutjob beau, because who knows, maybe Balotelli will bleed confetti, at this stage nothing would surprise us.

Yes you know it’s an awkward time in football when the most exciting prospect is an argument between a lunatic and his attractive ladyfriend. Tune in next week and I’ll have found something else midly interesting.

Miss of the week:

April 15, 2013

April 15th 2013

It was semi final week in the world of Football. In England the FA Cup Semis were played at Wembley and every team played their part. Manchester City were lucky but triumphant, Chelsea were dull with flashes of brilliance, Wigan were disciplined and Millwall fans were violent. The final is on May 11th between Wigan Athletic and Manchester City.

The A-League Grand Final, however, is this Sunday. It’s between the two best sides of the season in Central Coast Mariners and Western Sydney Wanderers. Whoever wins, it will be touted as a fairytale ending. For the Mariners it would be the breaking of an eight year Grand Final hoodoo, for the Wanderers, the ultimate prize in their first season. My heart says Central Coast but my head says Wanderers. The only safe bet is that WSW fans will punch someone/thing.

The best semi finals were played at Hampden Park for the Scottish Cup. Falkirk led Hibernian 3-0 at half time but the Edinburgh side fought back and won 4-3 after extra time. Last night Celtic knocked out Dundee United 4-3 in a match for the ages. At the end of the game the players were so exhausted they made glaring mistakes, often it seemed like when you’re playing FIFA and your controller is out of battery. Kris Commons scored two controversial goals, one whilst falling over and the other with his elbow. The final between Celtic and Hibernian will be on May 26th.

Goal of the Week –

With Melbourne Comedy Festival still happening [tix through dannymcginlay.com] I am having guest columnists aide my blog with:
WHY YOU SHOULD SUPPORT – This week TV producer David Barrett will convince you to follow Southampton!

Being a Southampton supporter you’re pulled into conversation by one of three things. One, the plucky Second Division club who beat Man U in ’76 final of the FA Cup. Two, Matt Le Tissier. Three, Ali Dia.
May 1 1976 will always live long in my memory. It’s my first ever memory as it happens. I can’t particularly remember the match as such, but running out onto the streets with my red and white wooly scarf and hat on to celebrate will forever be etched in the grey matter. It was the hottest day of the year and the start of the hottest summer on record, but none of us kids in the street took our red and white ensembles off for days.
Matt Le Tissier kept us in the Premiership for a decade, pretty much single handily, and there’s not a fan I know, of any team, who didn’t want him in their side. I don’t think there’s anything to add apart from this … http://youtu.be/m3jVh_IJwO0
And then there’s Ali Dia. Ali Ali Ali. If you don’t know the story then it’s a classic. Ali turned up at Marchwood, the Saints training ground, after a call from a fella purporting to be George Weah to the then manager Graham Souness.
“Georgie Weah” had recommended his “cousin” to Souness, and said the lad had turned out for Senegal and PSG. Who was Souey to argue with that. Bearing in mind this was before the likes of a quick check on Wikipedia that could dispel such BS, so Souness took the lad on a month’s contract. I’ll let our man Matt Le Tiss take up the story … http://youtu.be/GyT1r_oVcdA
Nice one eh? So there you have it. Saints are great for having beat the odds, produced countless diamonds on the pitch, and also let a completely useless dreamer to live out all our dreams – albeit for a half hour or so. If you have a lead on Ali Dia’s current whereabouts tweet @insearchofali as it is a film project to find Ali.

David Barrett is a Southampton supporter, and independent producer and director. Follow him on @david_barrett1

April 2, 2013

April 2nd 2013

It’s been a long Easter Weekend. With all the family commitments, chocolate consuming and Melbourne International Comedy Festival tickets you’ve been booking [hint] you probably missed a fair chunk of all the football news that happened. Good thing I’m here.

Firstly, you will have heard that the Socceroos played out a draw against Oman in Sydney. This has the tabloids screaming blue murder that Australia might not reach the World Cup Finals in Brazil. Everyone take a deep breath… and flick yourself in the eyeball for listening to the tabloids. We’re fine, we have three matches to play, and we are favourites to win in two of them. The other teams in our group only have two matches left so we’re pretty safe. If you want to panic about something just consider that Tony Abbott is very likely going to be Prime Minister. Although you’re the one who reads the tabloids, so you probably think this is a good thing.

Western Sydney Wanderers took out the ‘Premiers Plate’ in their first season. This means that they finished the regular season on top of the ladder; this is a big deal because in every other major football league in the world [except USA] this means you are the champions! However we, like the Yanks enjoy big sudden-death events so we have a finals series. Purists may complain that it’s against tradition, but without the finals series we would never have the great Aussie tradition of the Central Coast Mariners choking!

Chelsea knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup last night with a mind blowing performance by goalkeeper Petr Cech. Demba Ba put the London club in the lead pretty much by accident early in the second half *see goal of the week. Which means Ba should be starting for Chelsea when they take on Sunderland this Sunday. Could get awkward. Why?
Sunderland have just hired Paolo Di Canio as their manager. Paolo Di Canio is an Italian manager who is a self proclaimed Fascist. He has a tattoo of Benito Mussolini on his arm, and once gave the Nazi salute to his fans when he was playing for right-wing club Lazio. Already several Sunderland board members have stepped down because of the decision. The UK press have attacked DiCanio who went on to say the immortal line “I’m fascist, not racist, some of my best friends are black”. Di Canio is due to appear on The Bolt Report this Sunday.

Time for this week’s WHY YOU SHOULD SUPPORT this week’s comes from UK comedian Gordon Southern currently down under for the Comedy Festival season
WHY YOU SHOULD SUPPORT… LIVERPOOL
Liverpool is the best club in the world because I decided it was in 1977. I had just seen the European Cup with cheeky little Kevin Keegan and stern Kenny Daglish as I became ‘football aware” I had briefly flirted with the idea of supporting Manchester United as many of my school friends did (or West Ham our local team, but that didn’t seem exotic enough. I also liked Aston Villa for a while but that’s because I liked vanilla ice cream and had the two mixed up in my head.
I was not making clear, mature footballing decisions…Then Kenny Daglish came to our small own to be the celebrity at the opening of our new Asda superstore. He signed my Liverpool lampshade but also a Star Wars one that he didn’t have to sign as it was not Liverpool merchandise. That sealed the deal. That and their utter dominance of football for what seemed like forever
They’re a bit rubbish at the moment, and hard to love as their superstars tend to be dicks (Craig Bellamy, Luis Suarez…) but now my love is blind and unwavering. Not unconditional mind, this is a football team, not a dog or a child.

Gordon Southern is appearing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tix here – http://www.ticketmaster.com.au/search?tm_link=tm_homeA_header_search&user_input=Gordon+Southern+&q=Gordon+Southern+&search.x=85&search.y=20

And hey there’s my show happening too!
http://giggletix.com/MICF/danny-mcginlay-hypertonic.html

Goal of the Week

March 11, 2013

11th March, 2013

It’s a very brief Football bluff this week as most of the country is still enjoying it’s long weekend and I’m about to board a plane, here we go!

It was FA Cup Quarter final weekend in England and the big winners were Manchester City. The light blues thumped Barnsley 5-0, whilst Wigan upset Everton 3-0. Overnight Chelsea and Manchester United played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in a match that had everything: amazing headers, long range beauties and even a goal scored by Jonny Evan’s arse. The replay should be even more dramatic, and answer the big question: who hates Rafa Benitez more? Alex Ferguson or the Chelsea fans?

Sydney FC caused one of the upsets of the season, knocking off Central Coast Mariners on Saturday night. The shock win increases the chances that Western Sydney Wanderers will finish in top spot in their debut season. Speculation that Tony Popovic has made a deal with the devil in exchange for this perfect season are unconfirmed, however the fact that he is slowly turning into a gemsbok is true.
153155-tony-popovic

gemsbok5

And now for the increasingly popular why you should support, this week featuring comedian, broadcaster and Chelsea fan, the Fabulous Adam Richard!!!

WHY YOU SHOULD SUPPORT… CHELSEA!!!

Because they’re the best looking.

For more brief thoughts from Adam Richard follow him on twitter – @adamrichard

Goal of the Week:

March 4, 2013

March 4th, 2013

Western Sydney Wanderers are sitting atop of the A-League ladder! The league newbies defeated the Central Coast Mariners and are now favourites to finish the season in top spot. Despite the loss, Mariners manager Graham Arnold was upbeat claiming his team were in finals form, “We’re ahead of schedule, it feels good, normally we have to wait til at least the semi finals to choke so this is nice…”

Real Madrid defeated Barcelona 2-1 in a spiteful El Classico on Saturday night. Barca defender Gerard Pique was absolutely outraged after the match, complaining that Real get all the big decisions. Pique then stated he wasn’t that mad, as Barca are still 13 points clear and he still gets to have sex with pop star Shakira.

Arsenal’s season is going from worse to even worsener. The Gunners were defeated by fierce rivals Tottenham last night, but there may be some saviours. According to London tabloids, some “Middle Eastern Billionaires” want to buy Arsenal, but American owner Stan Kroenke has stated he will not sell. Kroenke has stripped Arsenal down to its most basic squad in years and still charges it’s fans more for tickets than any other club. Speculation that Kroenke is a Tottenham fan is still unproven, but highly likely.

In continuing our “Why you should support….” series of guest writers, this week we are joined by The Age writer and Bolton fan Luke Morris…
Why you should support… Bolton Wanderers.
Manchester. It is shite. Have you been to Manchester? It is shite. Leave Manchester well alone. Half an hour north-west and there’s Bolton. A happy-go-lucky town with so little concern about cash that we pay players to lose. Not on purpose, we just overpay horrible players. It’s part of a three point plan to stimulate the economy. 1) Exit the Premier League, 2) Stay in the Championship, and 3) tour the country’s regional areas, lose, and boost celebratory goodwill. It’s an altruist and emphatic approach that we all could learn from. Bolton. Support them to the betterment of the world.

Luke Morris is the Robbie Cornthwaite of writing, a Bolton Wanderers supporter, and head honcho at http://www.st-r.com.au.

Goal of the week:

February 11, 2013

11th February 2013

Due to my best mate’s wedding last night and the arrival of a new baby into my family also last night there’s will be a very quick Football Bluff this week.

England – Man Utd still dominating, they will win the league
Australia – Central Coast Mariners still dominating, they should win the league
USA – With David Beckham gone, apathy back to dominating the league

Thomas Rogic played his first game for Celtic and played brilliantly. Although I’d had a few pints by that stage…

African Cup of Nations won by Nigeria [although I read that in an email so it may be a scam]

Lots of people bet on Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory but match doesn’t appear to be fixed, Victory were just genuinely rubbish.

I was on The B League last night – have a watch, it’s a brilliant show!

January 7, 2013

January 7th, 2013

Last night’s A-League match of the round lived up to its hype with the Central Coast Mariners seeing off a dogged Western Sydney Wanderers in a fast paced, entertaining match. To be honest though, this blogger didn’t get to watch the match as last night was Orthodox Christmas and I was celebrating with my Ukrainian in-laws. But through my vodka-and-borscht flavoured hangover I have read some reports of the match in the NSW media and apparently it was amazing. One leading Sydney broadsheet called it, “The best game of wog-ball in the world, the only bad bit right was when that prick Daniel McBreen scored a try in each half, which meant Parramatta Wanderers lost, but that McBreen bloke should be really good for us in Origin.”

Over in the UK and it was FA Cup weekend, meaning there were cracking matches all over the country but really people only really want to know which little teams upset Premier League teams. The only Premier League team knocked out by a lower league team were Newcastle, who were knocked out by Brighton & Hove Albion. Although it’s not that exciting considering Brighton are in the Championship, only one tier below Newcastle. The big upset came when Cardiff City were knocked out by non-league team Macclesfield Town. To explain the disparity between the two teams: you could fit the whole population of Macclesfield inside Cardiff’s stadium. As is tradition when one of the big Welsh teams suffer an embarrassing loss, rugby shirt sales have skyrocketed.

It’s transfer season – here are the latest rumours:
Lampard to leave Chelsea, possibly to a USA club
Michael Owen to Perth Glory
Mario Ballotelli to return to Milan
Cristiano Ronaldo to Paris-Saint Germaine
Shinji Ono to Manly Sea-Eagles. [Sorry… damn NSW media again]

In Italy, AC Milan have walked off the field in a friendly match against Pro Patria after the crowd chanted racist taunts at Ghanaian player Kevin Prince-Boateng. Many folk have applauded Milan for the move but not FIFA president Sepp Blatter who called the reaction ‘inappropriate’. Blatter has reminded all players that FIFA’s official stance on dealing with racism is that players ignore the racism and hope really really hard that it will stop.
The Guardian have released their list of top 100 footballers of the moment. Unsurprisingly the top two are Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but what is surprising is that no Australians or even A League players made the list. To remedy this I have sent the following highlight reel to The Guardian

Goal of the Week – [blink and you’ll miss it]

December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve, 2012

In the past week this blogger has been accused of having a bias against Adelaide United for my continuing negative stories about the Reds. I take my role of amateur football writer very seriously so we begin this week with a positive story about my friends from the City of Churches:

If you ever need to look up ‘sagacious’ in the dictionary [I know I just had to] there should be a picture of Adelaide United FC. Last week it looked like Adelaide, along with the Central Coast Mariners, were going to be the dominant forces in the A-League, making for an unexciting end to the season. However the boys from Hindmarsh showed that they always see the bigger picture and realise that football needs excitement. In order to make the season seem more unpredictable they allowed Western Sydney Wanderers to smack them 6-1 on Friday night. This is the true meaning of sportsmanship (or sportspersonship if you’re politically correct, or sportshorsemanship if you write for the Daily Telegraph). Here’s a tip: FIFA Fairplay award – put money on the South Australian club.

Across the border and Saturday’s Melbourne Derby was the most dramatic yet! Melbourne Heart had the better of its navy blue (and flouro green) rivals in terms of possession, shots, corners, crosses, tackles and better dressed managers. So pretty much everything except goals. Archie Thompson scored the winning goal in injury time in front of the sell out crowd, but since the ball only barely went over the line, there was confusion in the crowd as to whether it was a goal or not. Thompson then continued the confusion in the post match interview where he answered questions through a mixture of clichés and interpretive dance, before finally he admitted he had no idea what he had just been asked. At this stage I can’t find the interview on youtube so if anyone has a link please email to himself@dannymcginlay.com (would do more work but come on it’s Xmas eve, I have Celtic FC socks to wrap).

In the Premier League overnight – Chelsea absolutely thumped Aston Villa 8-0. Villa defended so badly even Fernando Torres scored. Man United could only manage a draw with Swansea and in a hark back to the old days of football, Liverpool actually won a match.

The Italian capital is a happy place after Roma convincingly beat rivals AC Milan 4-2. Roma are fast becoming the favourite team of nerdy football fans everywhere because crowd shots of the Roman fans in their red and yellow scarves look a lot like fans of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team. If only they could sign a keeper named Weasley.

Staying in Europe and the Champions League round of 16 draw took place on Friday morning Australia time. Teams from Spain, Germany, England, Italy, France, Portugal, Ukraine, Scotland and Turkey are all playing.
The fixtures look like this:
Schalke 04 v Galatasaray
Juventus v Celtic
Bayern Munich v Arsenal
Borussia Dortmund v Shakhtar Donetsk
Barcelona v AC Milan
Manchester United v Real Madrid
Paris Saint-Germain v Valencia
Malaga v Porto

Although most folk will be salivating over the Man U v Madrid fixture, my tip is to keep an eye on Shakhtar Donetsk v Borussia Dortmund, both teams play fast attacking football but are also mortal enemies of autocorrect.

Goal of the Week: Lionel Messi. [All of his goals from 2012! All 91 of them!]

Have a great Xmas! May all your teams win. {Unless they’re Adelaide United… oh crap, quick! Delete! Delete! Shit I already hit send!}

April 30, 2012

I take a week off from writing about football and a cavalcade of shit goes down. Chelsea will meet Bayern Munich in the Champions League final after knocking out Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively, which resulted in the resignation of Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola. Then just to prove we do things differently in the Southern Hemisphere, Brisbane Roar win the A-League Grand Final with the most laughable “penalty” ever which results in Ange Postecoglou announcing he’s becoming the manager of Melbourne Victory.

Sydney FC have announced they have poached Graham Arnold as manager! The country’s second biggest club are expected to make an official announcement in the next couple of days. Arnold is best known for leading the Central Coast Mariners to two losing finals campaigns and his disastrous stint as Socceroos coach at the 2007 Asian Cup.

In a similar move, England look like they will sign Roy Hodgson as manager for the Euro 2012 finals campaign. Hodgson has managed more clubs than Tiger Woods and seems a perfect fit for the English side, as he has not won any silverware in over ten years.

One of football’s biggest and most famous rivalries possibly came to an end last night in Glasgow. Celtic and Rangers have been bitter enemies for over one hundred years, but with Rangers facing probable liquidation over the summer the old foes battled it out one last time. Celtic ran riot with an emphatic 3-0 win. Who will take Rangers mantle of Celtic’s biggest rivals? Aberdeen? Ross County? North Kilt-Town? Only time will tell and even less people will care.

Chelsea Captain John Terry will miss the Champions League final after receiving a red card in the semi final against Barcelona. Terry made the unprecedented move of apologising to the fans in the official match programme of last night’s win over QPR. Terry said “I’m big enough to man up when I make a mistake”. Good to see Terry is aware that intentionally kneeing an opponent from behind is a mistake, Now we just need to teach him about sleeping with teammates’ girlfriends and racism.

Reminder – City v United Tuesday morning Australia time. Should be a very exciting match, which means it probably won’t be.

Goal of the week – Luis Suarez v Norwich. [Not bad for a racist]

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